Indycar Releases Indy 500 Qualifying Schedule Tweaks- Some Thoughts

First the news release:

  • News from INDYCAR: More action, increased drama given to both Indianapolis 500 qualifying days

    More action, increased drama given to both Indianapolis 500 qualifying days

    INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, Feb. 28, 2019) – Bumping to secure locked-in grid positions on both qualifying days, the thrilling Fast Nine Shootout for the pole position and an opportunity to preview the 103rd Indianapolis 500 presented by Gainbridge with a full-field practice await NTT IndyCar Series fans May 18-19 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

    The action-packed format for Crown Royal Armed Forces Qualifying weekend was announced today by INDYCAR. The Indianapolis 500 runs Sunday, May 26 on the iconic 2.5-mile oval.

    Highlights of the qualifying weekend are:

    • The drama on Saturday, May 18 will be intense with competitors battling for one of the 30 locked-in starting positions and a berth in the Fast Nine Shootout the following day. Each entry is guaranteed one attempt and multiple four-lap runs may be made as time permits. Cars in positions 10 through 30 at the end of first-day qualifying on May 18 are locked into those starting spots for the race and will not re-qualify the next day.
    • NBC’s coverage on Sunday, May 19 (12-3 p.m.) will feature two highly competitive battles – for the last three starting positions in the field of 33 and the pole-deciding Fast Nine Shootout to determine the starting order of the first three rows.
    • Sunday’s action will be capped by a practice of nearly three hours that should serve as a preview of the Indianapolis 500. Cars will be trimmed in race setup and running in groups. NBCSN will provide the coverage (3-6 p.m.).

    “With this schedule, fans will get a phenomenal weekend of action, with two days of qualifying, bumping, the run for the pole and this incredible practice that effectively is the race before the race – all in a two-day span,” INDYCAR President Jay Frye said.

    The qualifying weekend schedule is as follows:

    Saturday, May 18 (all times ET):

    • 8-9:30 a.m.: Practice
    • 11 a.m.-5:50 p.m.: Qualifying (order based on draw, top 30 locked in field at end of day)

    Sunday, May 19:

    • 10:15-10:45 a.m.: Fast Nine Shootout practice 10:45-11:15 a.m.: Last Row Shootout practice
    • 12:15-1:15 p.m.: Last Row Shootout qualifying (order based on original draw, one attempt per car)
    • 1:15-2:15 p.m.: Fast Nine Shootout qualifying (order based on Saturday times, slowest to fastest, one attempt per car)
    • 3:15-6 p.m.: Open practice, all 33 qualified cars

    The 2019 NTT IndyCar Series season totals 17 races and opens with the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on Sunday, March 10 (12:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN).


I like the fact that the field won’t be set until Sunday. I’d prefer only 27 cars be locked in on Saturday.

It’s fantastic that both the pole run and bumping will be on NBC. The TV window dictated the format most likely.

I’m glad  the 10-30 group doesn’t have to requalify Sunday.  It rewards the teams for making the field on Day 1.

Giving the cars still needing to make the race just one shot Sunday seems inconsistent with the qualifying rules for Saturday. They should have two shots as time allows. Perhaps have the Fast Nine shootout first and make the practice  only two hours.

I could live without the Fast Nine Shootout. Determine the pole by fastest time Saturday and allow the Pole winner to spend time in the tv booth on Sunday. The schedule allows little air time for the polesitter.

Although I think this doesn’t go far enough, it is a big step in the right direction with what appears to be added television time. It is still probably a work in progress depending on the number of entries.

2 thoughts on “Indycar Releases Indy 500 Qualifying Schedule Tweaks- Some Thoughts

  1. Do not like this at all. Why have an almost 3 hour practice on Sunday? I want more qualifying not less and hate the fast-9 farce!!!


    1. I agree. The practice time could he put to better use, like more attempts for the cars trying to get in. I’m glad they made some overdue changes. Fast Nine got old after 3 years.


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